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FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
Volume XX CHICAGO, OCTOBER 31, 1936 No. 19
PRELIMINARY ACCOUNT OF CORAL SNAKES
OF SOUTH AMERICA THE UBIW-V OF THE
BY KARL P. SCHMIDT N'OV 1 6 1936
ASSISTANT CURATOR OP AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES
UNIVERSITY OF HJUMOK
The difficulties attending a definitive revision of the genus
Micrurus due to the dearth of material for study have been empha-
sized in previous papers on this notable genus of snakes. Thanks to
the opportunity to examine collections in European museums pre-
sented by my tenure of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial fellow-
ship in 1932, and to the cordial cooperation of colleagues, I have been
able to combine observations on specimens available in both Ameri-
can and European museums. Further acknowledgment of aid
received from friends and colleagues is deferred for a more extended
Some order now begins to appear in the chaos of synonyms, and it
is possible to define some of the taxonomic problems and to arrange the
valid forms in a preliminary way. When this is done, the list proves
to be extraordinarily at variance with the treatment of the genus
by Boulenger in the Catalogue of Snakes in 1896, and equally diver-
gent from the opinions of Amaral as expressed in his Lista remissiva
dos Ophidios da Regiao Neotropica in 1929. As a basis for further
examination, and I hope for discussion, I offer a list of the South
American forms which now seem valid, to supplement my previous
account of the North American species (Schmidt, 1928 and 1933).
A number of groups of allied forms may now be discerned within the
genus; but a consistent phyletic subdivision of the group as a whole
is as yet impossible. A purely artificial division of the species into
those with the black rings in triads and those without that arrange-
ment simplifies the review; but M. dumerilii, M. circinalis, and M.
ecuadorianus clearly exhibit the development of this type of pattern
from the simpler alternation of red, yellow, and black, and it is
quite possible that the perfected triad type of pattern may have
developed more than once. In the forms without triads the presence
No. 373 189
190 FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY ZOOLOGY, VOL. XX
or absence of supra-anal tubercles in adult males has been a useful
key to the taxonomy. A specific character which has not hitherto
been used is the proportionate length of the tail in the sexes, which
may be the same in both sexes or much longer in males.
Micrurus narduccii (Jan).
Elaps narduccii Jan, Arch. Zool. Anat. Physiol., 2, p. 222, 1863.
Elaps melanotus Peters, Sitzber. Ges. Naturf. Freunde, 1881, p. 51, 1881.
Elaps scutiventris Cope, Froc. Amer. Phil. Soc., 11, p. 156, 1869.
Micrurus narduccii Amaral, Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., 67, Art. 24, p. 19, 1925.
Type locality. Ecuador.
Range. Amazonian slopes of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.
Micrurus mipartitus (DumeYil and Bibron).
Elaps mipartitus Dumeril and Bibron, Erpetol. Gen., 7, p. 1220, 1854.
Elaps decussatus Dumeril and Bibron, idem, p. 1221.
Elaps semipartitus Jan, Rev. Mag. Zool., 1858, p. 113, 1858.
Elaps multifasciatus Jan, idem, p. 521, 1858.
Elaps anomalus Boulenger, Cat. Snakes Brit. Mus., 3, p. 417, pi. 22, fig. 2, 1896.
Elaps fraseri Boulenger, idem, p. 432, pi. 22, fig. 3.
Elaps mentalis Boulenger, idem, p. 432, pi. 22, fig. 4.
Elaps hertwigi Werner, Verh. Zool. Bot. Ges. Wien, 76, p. 354, 1896.
Elaps calamus Boulenger, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., (7), 9, p. 57, 1902.
Elaps aequicinctus Werner, Zool. Anz., 26, p. 249, 1903.
Elaps microps Boulenger, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., 1913, p. 1036, pi. 108, fig.
Elaps spurrelli Boulenger, idem, 1914, p. 817, pi. 2, fig. 3, 1914.
Elaps decipiens Werner, Sitzber. Akad. Wiss. Wien, (1), 135, p. 250, 1927.
Micrurus mipartitus Ruthven, Misc. Publ. Mus. Zool. Univ. Mich., 8, p. 68,
Type locality. Rio Sucio, Colombia.
Range. Central Nicaragua to Peru and Venezuela.
Micrurus psyches (Daudin).
Vipera psyches Daudin, Hist. Nat. Kept., 8, p. 320, pi. C, fig. 1, 1803.
Micrurus psyches Beebe, Zoologica, 2, p. 216, 1919.
Type locality. Surinam.
Range. French, Dutch, and British Guiana.
Distinguished from M. langsdorffii of the Amazon Basin by a
lower range of ventrals, 192-197 in males, 210-214 in females, and the
failure of the nuchal yellow marking to cross the head.
1936 CORAL SNAKES OF SOUTH AMERICA SCHMIDT 191
Micrurus langsdorffii Wagler.
Micrurus langsdorffii Wagler, in Spix, Serp. Bras., p. 10, pi. 2, fig. 2, 1824.
Elaps imperator Cope, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila., 1868, p. 110, 1868.
Elaps batesi Gunther, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., (4), 1, p. 428, pi. 17, fig. D, 1868.
Elaps annellatus Peters, Monatsber. Akad. Wiss. Berlin, 1871, p. 402, 1871.
Elaps steindachneri Werner, Verb. Zool. Bot. Ges. Wien, 51, p. 599, 1901.
Elaps fasslii Werner, Sitzber. Akad. Wiss. Wien, (1), 135, p. 249, 1927.
Micrurus langsdorffii Amaral, Mem. Inst. Butantan, 4, p. 230, 1929.
Micrurus mimosus Amaral, Mem. Inst. Butantan, 9, p. 221, 1935.
Type locality. Rio Japura, Amazonas.
Range. Amazon Basin.
This is the species usually identified in museums as M. annellatus.
I interpret the unusual coloration of the types of langsdorffii, impera-
tor, and mimosus as an anomalous color pattern within this species,
on the analogy of the Central American Micrurus affinis alienus;
at any rate, only these three specimens with the ventral surfaces light
and the black rings incomplete have been found, while the more
normal type, with complete black rings, in which an alternation of
lighter and darker is usually discernible ventrad, is known from
twenty-four specimens, all from the Amazon basin. Elaps stein-
dachneri and E. fasslii were based on the same type specimen, as is
evident from a comparison of the original descriptions and confirmed
by examining the specimen in question in the Naturhistorisches
Museum in Vienna. The ventrals range from 195 to 210 in males,
and from 208 to 215 (probably to 223) in females.
Micrurus ornatissimus (Jan).
Elaps ornatissimus Jan, Rev. Mag. Zool., 1858, p. 521, 1858.
Elaps buckleyi Boulenger, Cat. Snakes Brit. Mus., 3, p. 416, pi. 22, fig. 1, 1896.
Micrurus albicinclus Amaral, Comm. Telegraph. Matto Grosso Amazonas,
84, Ann. 5, p. 26, pi., figs. 7-10, 1925.
Type locality. Mexico (in error).
Range. Amazon Basin.
The characters available to distinguish this form from the last
are the somewhat inconstant yellow supraocular or prefrontal spots
and the higher number of ventrals in both sexes, 202-220 in males
and 212-230 in females. It is possible that it should be merged with
langsdorffii. Specimens with the red zones not darkened, like the
type, are connected by intermediates with specimens in which they
are completely black, as in the type of albicinctus.
192 FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY ZOOLOGY, VOL. XX
Micrurus circinalis (Dumeril and Bibron).
Elaps circinalis Dumeril and Bibron, Erpetol. Gen., 7, p. 1210, 1854.
Elaps riisei Jan, Rev. Mag. Zool., 1858, p. 525, 1858.
Elaps bocourtii Jan, Icon. Gen. Ophidiens, 42, pi. 6, fig. 2, 1872.
Type locality. Martinique (in error).
Range. Trinidad and adjacent Venezuela.
This form lacks supra-anal tubercles in adult males, and thus
is not at all allied to M. dumerilii or M. carinicauda. The ventral
count is low, 180 to 193 in males and 194 to 207 in females, and there
is a noteworthy tendency to the reduction or loss of the first temporal.
It is certainly fully distinct from M. corallinus of southeastern Brazil.
Micrurus balzani (Boulenger).
Elaps balzani Boulenger, Ann. Mus. Hist. Nat. Genova, (2), 19, p. 130, 1898.
Elaps regularis Boulenger, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., (7), 10, p. 402, 1902.
Type locality. Yungas, Bolivia.
Range. Amazon drainage, Bolivia.
Amaral refers this species to corallinus, from which, however, it is
distinguished by the fusion of the lower postocular with the fifth
labial. That this is not an adventitious character is shown by the
fact that it is uniformly present in the seven specimens known, all
Micrurus mertensi sp. nov.
Type from Pacasmayo, Peru. No. 94206 Senckenberg Museum,
Frankfort, Germany. Adult male. Collected in 1887 by Max
Diagnosis. A coral snake of the corallinus type, without supra-
anal tubercles in the male, with the black of the head extended
backward on the parietals and connected by a black bar with the
nuchal ring. Ventrals 210-221 in males, 232-235 in females, thus
distinctively higher than in corallinus; caudals respectively 47-51
and 33-37; black rings three or four scales wide, the red zones five
or six, the yellow rings distinct, one scale wide; scales of the red zones
black-tipped; 22 to 28 black rings on the body and uniformly 8 on
the tail in males, 5 in females; the temporals invariably 1-1; no
entire subcaudals. The type measures 880 mm., tail 117.
Paratypes. Four male specimens under Nos. 9420a and 9420b,
and one female, 9420b, in the Senckenberg Museum, one of which
(No. 18300) has been acquired by Field Museum in exchange.
1936 CORAL SNAKES OF SOUTH AMERICA SCHMIDT 193
A second female specimen, from Chanchamayo, Peru, British
Museum, No. 19220.127.116.11, agrees exactly with this series. I infer
that this specimen is from the Chanchamayo in the coastal province
Ancash, rather than from the more familiar locality of the same
name near Tarma. There are no less than five different localities
with this name in Peru.
Micrurus peruvianus sp. nov.
Micrurus corallinus Dunn (nee Wied), Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash., 36, p. 186, 1923.
Type from Perico, Department of Cajamarca, Peru. No. 17385
Museum of Comparative Zoology. Collected in 1916 by G. K. Noble.
Diagnosis. A small slender species with the pattern of coral-
linus, without supra-anal tubercles in the male; top of head black
nearly to the tips of the parietals, usually connected with the nuchal
ring; yellow rings one and a half scales wide; scales of red zones
uniformly black spotted; 25-27 black rings on the body and 4-9
on the tail; frontal scute short, nearly as wide as long, little larger
than one of the prefrontals. Four specimens out of six exhibit the
tendency to reduction of the postoculars to one; two specimens have
respectively 4 and 8 entire caudals; and two specimens have lost
the anterior temporal on both sides. M. peruvianus is clearly allied
to M. mertensi of coastal Peru, from which it is distinguished by its
lower number of ventrals, 193 and 211 in two males, 196 to 205 in
five females. It is even more closely allied to M. balzani of Bolivia,
from which it is separated by the lower ventral count in females; but
for the enormous geographic hiatus, I would scarcely venture to
distinguish it. The type measures 415 mm., tail 65.
Paratypes. Four specimens in the Museum of Comparative
Zoology. Nos. 17386, male, and 17387-89, females, were collected
at Perico with the type, and agree with it very closely in form
and color pattern. No. 17384, from Bellavista, to the south,
in the valley of the Maranon, apparently belongs with them,
but has the black rings of the body reduced to 18, and thus resembles
No. 4614 of the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris from Peru,
which has 19 rings. These two specimens may connect peruvianus
with still another race of coral snake in the Maranon Valley, as yet
Micrurus corallinus (Wied).
Elaps corallinus Wied, Nova Acta Acad. Leop. -Carol., 10, part 1, p. 108, pi.
Micrurus corallinus Amaral, Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., 67, Art. 24, p. 20, 1925.
194 FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY ZOOLOGY, VOL. XX
Type locality. Parahyba, Rio Frio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Range. Eastern Brazil, from Espiritu Santo to Santa Catharina;
inland to Matto Grosso.
This species, which is extremely abundant in eastern Brazil,
does not appear to reach the northern states, and is absent from
the Amazonian rain-forest. It will be clear from preceding remarks,
under circinalis, and below under dumerilii, that I do not regard
these forms as subspecifically allied to corallinus. Scores of adult
male specimens have been examined without finding a trace of the
supra-anal tubercles which are so conspicuous in the Colombian and
Venezuelan forms referred to corallinus. Few specimens have as yet
been available from the inland states of Brazil, and the Bolivian
records, though not rejected here, require further study.
Micrurus dumerilii (Jan).
Elaps dumerilii Jan, Rev. Mag. Zool., 1858, p. 522, 1858.
Elaps colombianus Griffin, Mem. Carnegie Mus., 7, p. 216, 1916.
Micrurus dumerilii Ruthven, Misc. Publ. Mus. Zool. Univ. Mich., 8, p. 68,
This species has conspicuous supra-anal tubercles in adult males.
The black pigmentation of the red zones is concentrated at the ends
of the zones adjacent to the yellow, so that an accessory narrow black
ring is present on each side of the principal black ring, forming a
triad, though a less perfect one than in the more completely developed
Micrurus carinicauda sp. nov.
Type from Orope, Zulia, Venezuela. No. 2587 Field Museum of
Natural History. Adult male. Collected in 1909 by Ned Dearborn.
Diagnosis. A coral snake allied to Micrurus dumerilii in its
head coloration and in having strongly developed supra-anal tubercles
in the male, but without accessory black rings. The ventrals range
from 183 to 196 in four males and from 196 to 214 in four females,
and the caudals from 48 to 51 and from 31 to 35. The number of
black rings varies from 18 to 25 on the body and 4 to 10 on the tail.
The type measures 775 mm., tail 122.
Paratypes. The known series of this species is composed of
three specimens in the Naturhistorisches Museum in Basel, Nos.
9238, 9974, and 11357, from the Province of Falcon, Venezuela;
three in the Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna, two from Puerto
1936 CORAL SNAKES OF SOUTH AMERICA SCHMIDT 195
Cabello and one from San Esteban, Caracao, Venezuela; and No.
3936 American Museum of Natural History, also from Venezuela.
Micrurus transandinus sp. nov.
Type from Andagoya, Choco, Colombia. No. 32744 Museum of
Comparative Zoology. Adult male. Collected in 1915 by H. G. F.
Diagnosis. Allied to forms with supra-anal tubercles and a
black cap. Ventrals 188 to 200 in twelve males and 205-217 in
twelve females, with caudals respectively 46-58 and 34-45; black
rings from 11 +7 to 16 +8 in males and from 14 +5 to 20 +7 in females ;
distinguished from M. nigrocinctus by its black cap and from M.
clarki by the presence of supra-anal tubercles; with many fewer
black rings than M. carinicauda. The nearest ally to the south,
M. ecuadorianus, likewise lacks the tubercles; the M. dumerilii of the
Magdalena Basin, with supra-anal tubercles and with similar scale
counts, differs in the invariable presence of accessory black rings.
Paratypes. Two specimens in Field Museum, Nos. 11589-
90, come from Paramba, Ecuador, as does British Museum No.
1818.104.22.168; British Museum Nos. 1901.3.29.36 and 1922.214.171.124
are also from Ecuador; in the same museum Nos. 19126.96.36.199-
66, 19188.8.131.52-64, and four additional specimens without
catalogue numbers, come from the Pacific slopes of Colombia;
one specimen from Ecuador and one from Colombia are in the
collections of the Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna; and Nos.
32743 and 32745-46 in the Museum of Comparative Zoology are
from the type locality.
Micrurus antioquiensis sp. nov.
Type from Santa Rita, north of Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia.
No. 18184.108.40.206 British Museum of Natural History.
Diagnosis. A coral snake indistinguishable from M. transan-
dinus of the Pacific slopes of Colombia in scale characters, but with
the nuchal ring absent in a majority of the specimens. In seven
specimens known from the Medellin district, the nuchal ring is
absent in four, reduced to a half-ring in two, and complete in one.
The ventrals vary from 189 to 204 and the caudals from 47 to 56
in five males, 216-217 and 36-42 in two females.
Paratypes. A second specimen from Medellin in the British
Museum, No. 220.127.116.11, is a male. Five specimens in the American
196 FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY ZOOLOGY, VOL. XX
Museum of Natural History, Nos. 35566-70, were collected by
Hermano Niceforo Maria in the Medellin region.
Remarks. It is scarcely surprising to find a partition of the
coral snakes of Colombia into geographic races by the great ranges
of the Andes. The forms here described are retained as species
rather than subspecies until more information regarding their
distribution becomes available.
Micrurus ecuadorianus sp. nov.
Type from Rio Daule, western Ecuador. No. 3559 Museum of
Comparative Zoology. Adult male.
Diagnosis. A coral snake with a black cap and the tail of the
male strongly enlarged, but without supra-anal tubercles; allied
therefore to Micrurus clarki and M. peruvianus (the nearest species
geographically), but distinguished from these forms by the develop-
ment of accessory black rings in the red zones, bordering the yellow
rings. Ventrals 200-209 and caudals 43-48 in seven males, 214-
223 and 33-35 in four females.
Paratypes. A female specimen in the Museum of Comparative
Zoology, No. 3569, is from the type locality, and No. 8399 in the
same museum is from Guayaquil; four specimens in the British
Museum, Nos. 1918.104.22.168-23, come from Ancon and Colonche,
southwestern Ecuador; two specimens, No. 66-1914, in the Zoolog-
ische Staatssammlung in Munich, from Guayaquil; and two speci-
mens with no data other than "Ecuador," one in the Naturhistorisches
Museum, Vienna, the other, No. 27636, in the American Museum of
Remarks. This form appears to replace M. transandinus of the
Pacific slope of Colombia in Ecuador, but is fully distinct in the
supra-anal tubercle character; it is perhaps most closely allied to
M. clarki of Panama, but I hesitate to apply trinomials in this group
until the geographic relations can be more clearly defined.
Micrurus hemprichii (Jan).
Elaps hemprichii Jan, Rev. Mag. Zool., 1858, p. 523, 1858.
Micrurus hemprichii Amaral, Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., 67, Art. 24, p. 17, 1925.
Type locality. Colombia.
Range. From the Guianas to Ecuador and through the Amazon
Basin to Para.
A very distinct species, with the triad character of the black
rings, the only species of the genus with an undivided anal plate.
1936 CORAL SNAKES OF SOUTH AMERICA SCHMIDT 197
Micrurus surinamensis (Cuvier).
Elaps surinamensis Cuvier, Regne Animal, 2, p. 84, 1817.
Micrurus surinamensis Beebe, Zoologica, 2, p. 216, 1919.
Type locality. Surinam.
Range. The Guianas to Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru.
The head-shields are strongly modified in this unusually stocky
and short-bodied species, the frontal being much more narrowed than
in any other species of the genus. The pattern is equally distinctive,
the narrow nuchal ring being the outer ring of a complete triad, and
the light head-shields sharply bordered with black.
Micrurus ancoralis ancoralis (Jan).
Elaps marcgravii var. ancoralis Jan, Icon. Gen. Ophidiens, 42, pi. 4, fig. 2, 1872.
Elaps rosenbergi Boulenger, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., 1898, p. 117, pi. 13, 1898.
Micrurus ancoralis Amaral, Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., 67, Art. 24, p. 19, 1925.
Type locality. Ecuador.
Range. Pacific drainage of Ecuador.
Micrurus ancoralis is an extraordinarily distinct species. It is
remarkable that Boulenger should have been misled into describing
rosenbergi, based on specimens in which the first pair of labials are in
contact. In the type of ancoralis, examined in Munich, the mental,
anterior chin-shields and first labials meet in a point, so that this
specimen is in fact exactly intermediate between the single speci-
men, British Museum ancoralis "b," in which there is a broad con-
tact of the mental and chin-shields (separating the first labials),
and the fifteen additional specimens in various museums in which
the first labials meet.
Amaral's suggestion that rosenbergi be referred to the synonymy
of filiformis is entirely untenable. After examination of all the
specimens available, it is clear that the Ecuadorian specimens fall into
one series and the Colombian into another, and rosenbergi, whose
type locality is Paramba, Ecuador, falls unequivocally into the
synonymy of typical ancoralis, so that the Colombian subspecies
requires a new name.
Micrurus ancoralis jani subsp. nov.
Type from Andagoya, Choco, Colombia. No. 32722 Museum of
Comparative Zoology. Adult male. Collected by H. G. F. Spurrell.
Diagnosis. A coral snake very closely allied to Micrurus anco-
ralis and replacing it in the Colombian Province of Choco; agreeing
198 FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY ZOOLOGY, VOL. XX
with ancoralis in all essential characters, but with a consistently lower
number of black triads on the body, 12-15 in males and 15-16 in
females, compared with 16-23 and 18-24 in Ecuadorian ancoralis;
ventrals and caudals 248-266 and 32-37 in males, 271-290 and 30-35
Paratypes. Nine specimens in the British Museum from Tado,
Pena Lisa, and Andagoya, collected by Messrs. Alcock, Spurrell, and
Palmer; two specimens in the Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna,
from Novita, Rio San Juan, Colombia; and five specimens in the
Museum of Comparative Zoology, Nos. 11151, 13270, 32720-21,
32723, from Andagoya.
Remarks. Close agreement in the elongate body and distinctive
color pattern, and contiguity of geographic range with Micrurus
ancoralis, place jani unquestionably as a subspecies of that form. I
take pleasure in naming this, one of the finest of all coral snakes, for
Giorgio Jan, whose early descriptions of species in this genus were
more sound than those of subsequent revisers.
Micrurus spixii Wagler.
Micrurus spixii Wagler, in Spix, Serp. Bras., p. 48, pi. 18, 1824.
Elaps corallinus var. obscura Jan, Icon. Gen. Ophidiens, 41, pi. 6, fig. 3, 1872.
Elaps heterozonus Peters, Sitzber. Ges. Naturf. Freunde, 1881, p. 52, 1881.
Elaps princeps Boulenger, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., (7), 15, p. 456, 1905.
Elaps ehrhardti Miiller, Zool. Anz., 65, p. 198, 1926.
Type locality. Solimoes River, Amazonas.
Range. Amazon Basin.
This species is one of the largest and most distinct of the coral
snakes. In old preserved material the distinction between the yellow
zones, which are unusually broad, and the red zones, may require
close attention to the arrangement, which in turn may be obscured
by confluence of two triads into a "quinquad" by suppression of the
red zone between them. The nuchal black ring is the middle ring of
a triad. The species is characterized by large size and thickness of
body, presence of a few undivided caudals in the majority of speci-
mens, broad yellow zones, and absence of sex dimorphism in length
of tail. In addition to the synonyms quoted, it has frequently been
identified as Elaps marcgravii (=ibiboboca) and as lemniscatus.
Micrurus isozonus (Cope).
Elaps isozonus Cope, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila., 1860, p. 73, 1860.
Elaps omissus Boulenger, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., (9), 6, p. 110, 1920.
1936 CORAL SNAKES OF SOUTH AMERICA SCHMIDT 199
Type locality. South America.
This species becomes readily distinguishable with the accumula-
tion of adequate series of specimens from Venezuela. In it the triad
arrangement is constantly different from that of Micrurus spixii, to
whose synonymy it was referred by Boulenger. It agrees in having
the nuchal ring as the outer ring of the first triad, as in frontalis,
lemniscatus, ibiboboca, etc., while in spixii the nuchal ring is invariably
the middle ring of a triad.
Micrurus frontalis frontalis (Dume'ril and Bibron).
Elaps frontalis Dumeril and Bibron, Erpetol. Gen., 7, p. 1223, 1854.
Elaps baliocoryphus Cope, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila., 1859, p. 346, 1859.
Type locality. Corrientes and Misiones Territory, Argentina.
Range. Sao Paulo to Rio Grande do Sul, westward to the Parana
The use of the trinomial is necessitated by the revival of altirostris
for the representatives of this species in Uruguay and I feel that still
further races of this southernmost coral snake may prove recognizable.
Micrurus frontalis altirostris (Cope).
Elaps altirostris Cope, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila., 1859, p. 345, 1859.
Type locality. South America.
This form is distinguished from typical frontalis by the greater
amount of yellow on the head-shields, by a shorter tail, and by a
distinctively lower number of ventrals, 197-208 in males, 206-210
in females; caudals 16-20 in both sexes.
Micrurus pyrrhocryptus (Cope).
Elaps pyrrhocryptus Cope, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila., 1862, p. 347, 1862.
Elaps simonsii Boulenger, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., (7), 9, p. 338, 1902.
Type locality. Vermejo River, Argentine Chaco.
Range. Savanna country from Mendoza in the Argentine to
Bolivia, eastward to the Paraguay River.
The redescription of this species as simonsii by Boulenger was
due to the appearance of a single specimen with the first labials
separated by the mental and chin-shields. That this is an anomaly
is afe once evident upon the examination of a series of specimens,
200 FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY ZOOLOGY, VOL. XX
which agree perfectly in color pattern. No intergrades between this
species and frontalis have been found, and it seems preferable to
maintain the species as fully distinct, although the coloration of
the head shows plainly that it is allied to frontalis rather than to
I have designated the Vermejo River as type locality because
this river was ascended by the Page Expedition, and of the localities
visited is by far the most likely origin for the specimen.
Micrurus ibiboboca (Merrem).
Elaps ibiboboca Merrem, Tent. Syst. Amphib., p. 142, 1820.
Elaps marcgravii Wied, Nova Acta Acad. Leop.-Carol., 10, p. 109, 1820.
Elaps gratenhorstii Jan, Rev. Mag. Zool., 1858, p. 523, 1858.
Elaps heierochilus Mocquard, Bull. Soc. Pbilom. Paris, (7), 11, p. 39, 1887.
Micrurus ibiboboca Amaral, Rev. Mus. Paulista, 15, p. 7, 1925.
Type locality. Brazil.
Range. Northeastern Brazil.
Amaral concludes that this species is synonymous with Micrurus
lemniscatus of the Amazon Basin; lemniscatus, however, has a
definitely higher range of ventral scales, and a still better marked
difference in the number of caudals. M. ibiboboca is probably more
closely allied to M . frontalis than to M. lemniscatus; but I regard
the relations of this series of forms as one of the primary remaining
taxonomic problems in the genus. I follow Amaral in referring
gratenkorstii and heterochilus here. I have not seen the types.
Micrurus decoratus (Jan).
Elaps decoratus Jan, Rev. Mag. Zool., 1858, p. 525, 1858.
Elaps fischeri Amaral, Anex. Mem. Inst. Butantan, 1, p. 59, pi. 2, figs. 1-5,
Elaps ezequieli Lutz and Mello, Folha Med., 4, p. 2, 1923.
Micrurus decoratus Amaral, Mem. Inst. Butantan, 4, p. 229, 1929.
Type locality. Mexico (in error).
Range. Rio de Janeiro to Santa Catharina.
This species is characterized by the usual loss of the anterior
temporal so that the sixth upper labial reaches the parietal; out of
nine specimens examined, five have temporals 0-1, two have 0-1 on
one side and 1-1 on the other, and two have 1-1 on both sides. The
type of M. fischeri is based on the same anomalous extension of the
mental to meet the anterior chin-shields which has so greatly enriched
1936 CORAL SNAKES OF SOUTH AMERICA SCHMIDT 201
the synonymy in this genus. The species in which this character has
appeared are not necessarily in the least allied. In M. narduccii it is
the normal condition; it appears as an accidental anomaly in M.
mipartitus, leading to the description of M. mentalis; in M. lemnis-
catus, leading to M. helleri; in M. pyrrhocryptus, leading to M.
simonsii; and in M. decoratus, leading to M. fischeri; while its exist-
ence in the type of M. ancoralis misled Boulenger into redescribing
normal specimens of this species as rosenbergi. The nuchal black
ring in decoratus is the middle ring of a triad.
Micrurus lemniscatus (Linnaeus).
Coluber lemniscatus Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., p. 224, 1758.
Micrurus lemniscatus Beebe, Zoologica, 2, p. 216, 1919.
Micrurus helleri Schmidt and Schmidt, Field Mus. Nat. Hist., Zool. Ser., 12,
p. 129, 1925.
Elaps frontifasciatus Werner, Sitzber. Akad. Wiss. Wien, 135, p. 250, 1927.
Type locality. Asia (in error).
Range. The Amazon basin.
I have had repeated occasion to discuss the synonymy of this
species and have myself contributed to it. In this species, as in
spixii and langsdorffii, the uniformity throughout the vast region
from the foothills of the Andes to the lower Amazon seems due to
rapid passive dispersal during floods. This species is allied on one
hand to M. filiformis by the occasional high ventral counts, which
reach 265, and on the other to M. ibiboboca, as maintained by Amaral.
The latter species, however, invariably has a shorter tail and lower
number of caudals, 19-30 (in both sexes), as compared with 30-42 in
Micrurus filiformis (Giinther).
Elaps filiformis Giinther, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., 1859, p. 86, pi. 17, 1859.
Micrurus filiformis Amaral, Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., 67, Art. 24, p. 19, 1925.
Type locality. Para, Brazil.
Range. Amazon Valley.
This is apparently allied directly to Micrurus lemniscatus, with
which its range is nearly coextensive. It is presumably separated
from its ally by a difference of food habits. Only about seventeen
specimens are thus far known ; in them the ventrals range from 269 to
321, the caudals from 34 to 45, without considering the sexes.
202 FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY ZOOLOGY, VOL. XX
Micrurus tschudii tschudii (Jan).
Elaps tschudii Jan, Rev. Mag. Zool., 1858, p. 524, 1858.
Micrurus tschudii Schmidt and Schmidt, Field Mus. Nat. Hist., Zool. Ser.,
12, p. 132, pi. 12, 1925.
Type locality. Peru.
Range. Coastal Peru.
The existence of specimens of this species said to be from Bolivia,
in the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris and others from Chan-
chamayo, Peru, in Dresden, raises difficult problems of distribution.
The Peruvian locality may be the Chanchamayo in coastal Ancash,
as surmised in the similar case of Micrurus mertensi. The specimens
in Paris labeled "Bolivia," collected by Wiener, agree with my
diagnosis of olssoni more closely than with tschudii, but lack the
Micrurus tschudii olssoni Schmidt and Schmidt.
Micrurus olssoni Schmidt and Schmidt, Field Mus. Nat. Hist., Zool. Ser.,
12, p. 130, pi. 11, 1925.
Type locality. Negritos, Piura, Peru.
Range. Desert coastal region of northwestern Peru.
This form is set off from its close ally to the south by the mottled
color of the snout, and by a distinctly lower number of ventrals,
196-204 in seven males, 206-213 in five females, compared with
202-216 and 210-232 in eleven male and eight female specimens of
tschudii tschudii. The number of triads in olssoni ranges only from
10 to 13, while in the typical form their number ranges from 13 to 19.
Micrurus dissoleucus dissoleucus (Cope).
Elaps dissoleucus Cope, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila., 1859, p. 345, 1859.
Type locality. Venezuela.
Range. Northwestern Venezuela.
In seven male specimens the ventral and caudal range is 178-193
and 24-28, and in six females 200-206 and 21-23 ; the type measures
578 mm., and a specimen from Maracaibo in the Naturhistorisches
Museum in Basel measures about 620 mm. As in related forms,
the nuchal ring forms the outer ring of an anterior triad, so that the
triad formula may be written 2^6+1 or J^ll+1^, which is the
actual range of variation in this character in the series.
1936 CORAL SNAKES OF SOUTH AMERICA SCHMIDT 203
Micrurus dissoleucus melanogenys (Cope).
Elaps melanogenys Cope, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila., 1860, p. 72, 1860.
Elaps hollandi Griffin, Mem. Carnegie Mus., 7, p. 218, pi. 18, figs. 10-12, 1916.
Type locality. South America.
Range. Santa Marta region of Colombia.
This species is one of the smallest of coral snakes, distinguished
by its size and different form of head from dissoleucus, and with a
shorter tail, with few caudals, 22-23 in males and 17-19 in females.
Micrurus dissoleucus dunni Barbour.
Micrurus dunni Barbour, Occ. Papers Mus. Zool. Univ. Mich., 129, p. 35, 1923.
Type locality. Ancon, Canal Zone, Panama.
Range. Panama to the Magdalena Basin, Colombia.
With only four Panama specimens of this form available, I am
unable to separate the small coral snake of this type in the Mag-
dalena Basin from them, though I strongly suspect that a fourth
subspecies in this chain of forms will ultimately be distinguishable.
AMARAL, AFRANIO DO
1929. Lista remissiva dos Ophidios da Regiao Neotropica. Mem. Inst. Butan-
tan, 4, pp. 127-271.
BOULENGER, G. A.
1896. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum. 3, pp. xiv+727,
text figs. 1-37, pis. 1-25.
SCHMIDT, KARL P.
1928. Notes on American Coral Snakes. Bull. Antivenin Inst. Amer., 2,
1933. Preliminary Account of the Coral Snakes of Central America and
Mexico. Field Mus. Nat. Hist., Zool. Ser., 20, pp. 29-40.
THELIBR" n YOFTHE
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA